Don’t Miss Out On Any of Our Best Reads, and Contests. Register Now!

My Share Of Adjustments Has Only Grown, Making Me Feel Suffocated In This Marriage

Sneha had long back stopped expecting support and encouragement from her marital family, but seeing this selfishness and obliviousness to her feelings from Sanjay left her shattered.

Sneha had long back stopped expecting support and encouragement from her marital family, but seeing this selfishness and obliviousness to her feelings from Sanjay left her shattered.

Sneha was looking at her wedding album, the photographs which should have brought a smile on her face only seemed to make her sullen. She kept looking at the photo of her dressed in bright red lehenga with ornate work. A heavy kundan necklace weighing down on her neck and the matching jhumkas hanging down from her earlobes only reminded her of the pain in her earlobes that troubled her for almost the next two days.

The photograph and memories of her wedding lehenga only made Sneha bitter. Even after a decade, she could not stop herself from thinking how much more pleasant this photograph would have been if only she could have worn the lilac silk saree and her mother’s pearl necklace. A dream she had cherished in a corner of her heart since she saw the saree in her mother’s cupboard for the first time at 17.

With a wry smile, Sneha exclaimed to herself, “the first dream to be broken.”

Sneha flipped through the pages of the album and stopped once again to intently stare at the photograph of Sanjay and her, happy smiles adorning their faces.

They had felt victorious that day. If someone had asked either of them that day about their biggest accomplishment in their life so far, the immediate reply would have been making the wedding happen. Little did they know that the real battle had just begun.

Sneha and Sanjay had met in college. By the time the four years of their engineering course had come to an end, their friendship had blossomed into love. They both came from diametrically opposite backgrounds and knew that convincing their families would be an arduous task, and decided to take their time before informing their families. Sneha went on to do her post-graduation, while Sanjay got busy working on his startup idea.

The next four years went by in both of them working on their professional goals. Sneha bagged the job of an assistant professor in a reputed college and Sanjay’s start-up was also growing steadily. Both of them felt confident about informing their families. While they were not expecting their families to happily bless them and begin the celebrations, they weren’t prepared for the unexpected level of animosity either.

Never miss a story from India's real women.

Register Now

Sneha’s parents were sceptical of Sanjay, more so of his family background. They could not connect with an affluent family from a political background, but they were willing to meet Sanjay and his parents and make the attempt to take things forward.

But Sanjay’s parents were furious, more so his father. He had wanted to use Sanjay’s marriage as the platform to strengthen his political ties. But instead, his son was intent on marrying a girl from a regular middle-class family, who was not going to be of any advantage to his political image, and neither did she fit their family stature. Sneha’s qualification, of course, was sufficient reason for Sanjay’s mother to become wary of his choice of life partner.

The animosity displayed by Sanjay’s parents disturbed Sneha greatly. Her family only received coldness in response to all the attempts they made at furthering the bond with Sanjay’s parents. Sneha had almost made up her mind to end the relationship as she could not bear to see the pain in her parents’ eyes. But it was Sanjay who did not lose hope and kept persevering. Maybe it was his relentless faith or his stubborn stance, his parents finally came around; or did they? Sneha wondered now.

Sneha remembered vividly how from the day the wedding preparations had begun, Sanjay’s parents had ensured they were the only ones calling the shots, and how subtly they had managed to do it. Rejecting her choice of the lilac saree and pearls and thrusting the heavy embellished lehenga and jewellery on Sneha on the pretext on family traditions. Changing the wedding venue and the menu on the pretext of not inconveniencing their VIP guests. Demanding ostentatiously expensive decoration claiming how they were well known, and that the media would hound and shame them if everything was too austere.

It wasn’t that Sneha didn’t find this behaviour of her prospective in-laws odd; she felt uncomfortable and unhappy with their interfering attitude. But she saw the effort Sanjay was putting in, extending all possible help to her family and ensuring in every way that the wedding would happen without a hiccup. As a result she only felt it fair to make her share of adjustments.

This share had only grown bigger with each passing year, and now she felt suffocated under its burden.

Sneha remembered the evening after her wedding vividly. The sight of her marital home as she entered its gates had stayed fresh in her memory over the years.

As their car drove into the driveway, she was quite shocked to see the house bereft of any decorations. Except for a light at the main gate and one at the portico, no other light was switched on. She alighted from the car and waited to be welcomed into the house. Even after a good 10 minutes, she saw no sign of anyone approaching her for the welcoming ritual.

She looked at Sanjay, who looked equally puzzled. Not intending to stand there any longer they entered the house. Sneha noticed that the others had retired to their rooms. She followed Sanjay to his room. Despite trying her best Sneha could not help the tears from flowing down her cheeks. Tears which became her companion in the years to come.

Sneha soon realised that though Sanjay’s parents had relented to his demand and agreed to their wedding, they were not happy with the marriage and they made no efforts to mask their feelings. There had been no celebrations after their wedding, not even a special meal, and she was never acknowledged as a part of the family.

Sneha had Sanjay’s support and her job kept her busy, the reason she believed to this day that she managed to keep herself sane in this toxic environment. But more than the toxic behaviour and the continuous ignorance she endured from Sanjay’s parents and his extended family it was their hypocrisy and duplicity which hurt her more. She was made to pose for all those photographs for the press, dressed traditionally. The photographs gave the impression of a well-knit family steeped in traditions, and only she knew was a lie.

Till three years ago Sneha had endured all the hurt and ignorance shoved her way, because she believed Sanjay was there for her. But the year Sanjay decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and make his foray into politics had changed it all for her. Or she had finally pushed away the veil of illusion clouding her mind?

Her career, ambitions, or dreams made little difference to the family, but now Sanjay had also started taking a similar stance.

She had chosen to initially ignore this change in his behaviour and as long as they kept busy in their lives, she was successful in not letting it affect her. But all hell had broken loose when she had taken a stance and spoken up before the media against certain measures of the ruling party which was impacting the student community negatively.

Her father-in-law was a senior leader of the party, Sanjay was making his foray into the party, and they were infuriated that she had spoken against them. She was warned to behave like the women in the family are expected to. It all boiled down to that one question she had grown tired of hearing continuously over the years “what was the need for her to work?”

Last month Sneha had told Sanjay she was going to pursue her PhD and she was getting an opportunity at one of the reputed Central Universities to pursue the same.

Sanjay wasn’t pleased with this news. He was planning to contest the elections which were hardly 8 months away and he had planned that his wife would campaign beside him. What better way to make the electorate in his constituency believe in her allegiance to his political ideology? He announced the same to Sneha, asking her to take a long leave from work or even better, to resign. She was shocked to hear this from Sanjay.

Sneha had long back stopped expecting support and encouragement from her marital family, but seeing this selfishness and obliviousness to her feelings from Sanjay left her shattered.

As she sat there brooding, she questioned herself – why had Sanjay become so self-centred and started taking her for granted? Was this really sudden?

The trick question had begun to seep in, however. It had become a trick situation. The longer she sat feeling sorry for herself, the less sorry she felt. It’s called a reverse something or the other. There isn’t time to get into that now.

Sneha recollected how she had given in to every small and big demand for adjustment, often against her liking and beliefs, all because Sanjay had managed to convince her each time how such small incidents didn’t matter in the bigger scheme of life. This wasn’t the first time her plans for PhD had been put on the backburner, but this time she was sure of what she wanted, and was in no mood to adjust to keep the semblance in the bigger scheme of life.

Sneha finally closed the photo album, put it back on the shelf, and walked out of the room. She was heading out of the house when she met Sanjay in the hallway.

“So, when is your last day at work?” He asked her casually.

“End of next month, I have a fortnight’s break after which I will be starting work on my Ph.D.”

Sneha saw the smile that had begun to form on Sanjay’s face slowly turn into a frown. “Sneha, why are you acting like this? I have asked for a small adjustment from you for our sake. Can’t you leave the ‘me’ aside and think of us this once?”

Sneha couldn’t help smirking at the hypocrisy in Sanjay’s words.

“Sanjay, please keep all these emotional lines for your political speeches. As for the adjustments, I have only been making them for a decade, for a change, you adjust. Actually, you can go right ahead with your plan; you have to make no changes. I cannot be supportive of a political ideology I do not agree with, and I will continue raising my voice against anything I feel is wrong. The least you owe your electorate is the truth and the truth is I am not your ally in your political journey. So, while you live your newfound dream, let me live my life without the encroachments and adjustments.”

Sneha walked out with a feeling of renewed energy, the burden that had been pressing on her over the years was finally melting away.

This story was shortlisted for our July 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. Our juror for the month Jane De Suza says “A well-written strong feminist statement. I would have liked to see the story with a turn, or a few more ripples in the current timeframe, rather than only a remembrance of the past. I think this writer can explore her power to do that.”

Image source: a still from the short film Juice

Comments

About the Author

Parvadavardini Sethuraman

A dreamer by passion and an Advocate by profession. Mother to an ever energetic and curious little princess. I long to see the day when read more...

78 Posts

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

""
All Categories